Essay 2: Evaluating
5 pages double-spaced responding to the argument that Simon Caney makes in his (2006) article “Environmental Degradation, Reparations, and the Moral Significance of History”
For this second essay, you will practice responding to another author’s view. To respond to the view, you’ll have to summarize it, much like you did in Essay 1. As before, be sure to explain the author’s view as accurately and charitably as you can while being mindful of what details are really necessary for what you will want to argue in your response (see They Say/I Say page 35). However, in this essay you will not just summarize the author’s argument, but you will evaluate and respond to it also.
Recall that there are three general ways to respond to another author’s view: “yes”, “no”, “okay, but…” After you feel that you have a good understanding of what the author you have chosen is arguing and how they are doing so, step back and ask yourself: Do I find this argument compelling? Do I agree with the conclusion at which the author arrives? Do I agree with the particular steps in reasoning that the author uses in this article to arrive at that conclusion? Do I have any objections or concerns about the conclusion or this author’s argument for it? What are the most and least compelling parts of the argument? Are there plausible alternative lines of thought to the one that the author argued? Are there other relevant considerations that the author has not sufficiently addressed?
Once you have answered these questions for yourself and have articulated your own reasons and compiled your own evidence to argue for your response to the author, you are ready to start drafting your essay. I recommend that you structure your essay in the following way:
1. Thesis statement – state as clearly and concisely as you can what your response is to the author’s argument, efficiently summarizing how you will argue for that response. Your thesis statement may have the form: “I will argue that…”
2. Expository section (no more than 2 pages) – accurately and charitably summarize aspects of the author’s argument that are necessary for understanding the argument that you will make in response to it
3. Response – argue for the response position that you’ve articulated in your thesis statement, using specific and explicit reasons
4. Bibliography – include a properly formatted and complete list of references
As in the first essay, for this assignment you should be sure to cite relevant passages in the original article as evidence of your interpretation of the argument and include page numbers. Again, try to minimize the amount of direct quotations that you use and instead paraphrase the author’s argument in your own words (with citations). You may also want to include citations of other references besides the article to which you are responding, although this is not strictly speaking necessary. Chicago would be a good citation style for this essay.
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